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Thunder Bay declares gender-based violence epidemic

By CJ Goater Sep 26, 2023 | 1:28 PM

Thunder Bay City Hall Sign - Acadia Broadcasting Files

Thunder Bay has joined 34 other municipalities in declaring gender-based violence/Intimate Partner Violence an epidemic.

According to a report delivered to council, Intimate Partner Violence, also known as spousal or domestic violence, is a type of Gender-Based Violence.

It describes various forms of violence such as psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, harassment, financial, spiritual, coercive, control, cyber violence, and reproductive coercion, perpetrated against an intimate partner or spouse. An intimate partner is a current or former spouse, common-law partner, or dating partner.

This is an issue throughout the province but statistics show it is an even more pressing matter in Thunder Bay.

Data published by Statistics Canada shows that, on average, from 2019 – 2021, the Thunder Bay Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) had a rate of female intimate partner police-reported violence 2 times higher than Ontario’s provincial rate and 1.5 times higher than that of all of Canada.

Gwen O’Reilly, Executive Director of the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre explains that stiffer criminal penalties are not enough to solve this issue.

“The law reform and the policy efforts that are intended to create greater sanctions for abusers are based on this idea of increasing criminality, and that unfortunately does not increase safety for women,” O’Reilly added that we need other systems in place to solve this issue.

Declaring an epidemic is symbolic but doing so applies pressure on the provincial government to follow suit. In addition to declaring an epidemic council is set to send a copy of the resolution to declare an epidemic to the Premier of Ontario and all Ontario municipalities.